Fierce fight for Ernakulam Lok Sabha constituency

For a constituency that includes Kerala’s commercial capital – Kochi – development becomes a decisive issue ahead of any election. But in Ernakulam, poll dynamics can get more complex than that.

At one level, the face-off offers an engaging contrast. K V Thomas of the Congress, four-time MP and Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, is pitted against Christy Fernandes, a former Gujarat cadre IAS official fielded as an independent candidate by the Left. Balancing the contrast is one entry that’s common to their CVs; they both belong to the Latin Catholic community that shapes vote swings in the constituency.

With an even community match-up ensured, the CPM is hoping to prop Fernandes as a challenger against Thomas, a Congress veteran and sitting MP. After a shaky start, also coupled with apprehensions over a babu’s chances against a thoroughbred neta, Fernandes has gathered pace in his campaign. “The anti-incumbency mood has emerged as a decisive factor. There’s a marked disillusionment among people with both the Union and state governments,” Fernandes told Deccan Herald.

Ernakulam has traditionally favoured the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) but the modest margin with which Thomas won in 2009 fuels hope in the Left Democratic Front (LDF) camp. Thomas, who won here in 1984, 1989 and 1991, had defeated CPM’s Sindhu Joy by just over 11,000 votes.

V J Poulose, District Congress Committee (DCC) president, said Thomas – who used to teach Chemistry at the Sacred Heart College in Thevara here – was set for a big win.

“This is a UDF bastion and the Congress has lost here only when there were internal issues. In 2009, a misinformation campaign led to a close contest. This time, Thomas is contesting more as a people’s candidate than a party nominee,” he said.

Ernakulam covers the seven Assembly constituencies of Kalamassery, Paravur, Vypeen, Kochi, Thripunithura, Ernakulam and Thrikkakkara. Barring Kalamassery, the Congress won all seven seats in the 2011 Assembly election. The BJP has fielded senior leader A N Radhakrishnan from the constituency.  The Congress is seeking a vote for continued infrastructure development in and around Kochi.

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